• Ambling indian

Tales of mumbai locals

The year was 1995, roughly a couple of years after I had graduated from IIM and taken up a job in Bombay. It was a Saturday and, although an office holiday, some of us were at our Cuffe Parade office for some work. By evening, a colleague, also an IIM batch mate, and I, finished up with work and took a local train from Churchgate station to Goregaon, where our company’s residential apartments were located.


I boarded the ladies compartment and my batch mate got into a general compartment, several coaches ahead. As it was a Saturday and the train originated at Churchgate, I got a seat by the window. Soon, I was engrossed in a newspaper, unmindful of the steadily growing crowd in the train with each passing station. Sometime later, as the train was leaving a station, I happened to look out of the window, and to my dismay saw the Goregaon station boards passing by. I folded the newspaper, went to the door and in a split second decided to alight rather than miss the station. I was sure that as my feet hit the ground, I could run along in the direction of the train for a bit and I would be fine. I jumped out. Even after over a year of traveling by Bombay local trains, I had misjudged how quickly the locals gather speed.


As I jumped, I heard the women standing by the door of the compartment screaming, and I had a dull realization that they were screaming seeing me. My foot hit the ground with great force. I didn't have time even to bend my knee- I just fell forward hard. Thankfully, when I jumped, my left arm was bent at the elbow and the forearm took much of the brunt. I was shaken, but was lucky to get away with some bruises and no broken bones (and later a tetanus shot).


And here's my colleague’s version of the story- he got off at Goregaon station and walked back looking for me, as the train started moving. He couldn't find me. And just when he thought I had missed the train, he saw a flash of red fly out of the ladies compartment towards the ground, disappearing in the crowd. He was soon to find out that that was me.


I share this story as a cautionary tale to those new to Mumbai locals and even those not that new– miss your station, but never try alighting from a Mumbai local train that has started moving – it may seem deceptively doable, but the train gathers speed very very quickly.


-Shalini Singh (https://in.linkedin.com/in/shalinis1 )

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